20 August 2009
H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
BAYAN CANADA, an alliance of progressive Filipino organizations in Canada, has been informed of the violent dispersal and mass arrest of youth and student protesters who held a lightning rally in Mendiola last Wednesday, 19 August 2009.
According to reports, Members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and Manila Police District violently attacked and dispersed protesters using nightsticks, arbitrarily arresting 20 and injuring 17 students from Polytechnic University of the Philippines, University of the Philippines-Diliman and some high schools.
Among the victims of the said violent dispersal and illegal detention were:
1. Mark Gil Gamido, 17 y/o, ANAKBAYAN Culiat High School chapter
2. Likha Gaia Flores, 16y/o, ANAKBAYAN member
3. Jessa Dulay, League of Filipino Students member
4. Karl Villaseñor, Anakbayan
5 Yasmin Ongay, member Anakbayan University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman
6. Charmaine Guevarra, member Anakbayan, UP Diliman
7. Michael Non, member League of Filipino Students, UP Diliman
8. Lia Torres, member Anakbayan UP Diliman
9. Warren Guttierez, member League of Filipino Students, UP Diliman
10. Allan de Guzman, member League of Filipino Students, UP Diliman
11. Absolom Eligio, member League of Filipino Students, UP Diliman
12. Abriel Mansilungan, Kabataan Partylist member, Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP)
13. Kimberly Salas, member Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), PUP
14. Giemma Canalis, member SCMP-PUP
15. Elvin Rillo, PUP student
16. Lea Jamayan, member League of Filipino Students, PUP
17. Andrew Alejo, Anakbayan PUP member
18. Ana Isabel Manalang, PUP student
19. Anton Perdigon, College Editors Guild of the Philippines member
20. Nida Grefaldo, College Editors Guild of the Philippines member
News footage from GMA Network’s 24 Oras and Saksi showed that some members of the dispersal unit used excessive force by punching and kicking the protesters and dragging them over the asphalt even after they were arrested.
Reports also said that the PSG held the arrested students for almost one hour inside the Gate 7 premises and refused entry to paralegals who wanted to check on the well-being of the students. The arrested students were later brought to the Hospital ng Maynila for medico-legal check-up and then to the Manila Police District Headquarters where they were detained for illegal assembly without being read their Miranda Rights.
According to youth organizers, around 200 members of Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students (LFS), College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) held a lightning rally in front of the Gate 7, Malacañang Palace to show Malacañang their disgust over the expensive dinners that Her Excellency and her entourage, including more than 20 administration congressmen, had during her visit in the United States early this month.
The youth groups were referring to the expensive dinner Her Excellency and her group had in Le Cirque in New York which was reportedly amounting to more than $20,000. As you are aware of, this report had earned the ire of the entire Filipino nation, Filipino compatriots abroad, including the various youth groups who believe that it was a reflection of your administration’s insensitivity to the hunger and poverty experienced by most Filipinos today.
Furthermore, we wish to point out to Her Excellency, that while she was having her expensive dinners just south of Canada’s border, thousands of Filipino migrants and immigrants working in Canada feeling the world economic crisis were scraping together what they can to send money back to their families and relatives in their homeland.
BAYAN CANADA strongly believes that the students’ protest was a valid exercise of the right of the people to hold accountable the President for the alleged misuse of public funds, thus violent action of the PSG and police were beyond justification.
BAYAN CANADA would like to reiterate the Filipino people’s right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of their grievances, as guaranteed by Article III, Section 4 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
BAYAN CANADA would also like to stress the failure of the Manila Police District officers to inform the students of their rights upon arrest is a clear violation of Article III, Sec. 12. (1) of the Philippine Constitution which states that “any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice.”
In this regard, we demand an immediate investigation of the violent dispersal of student protesters in Mendiola, Manila last August 19, 2009 resulting in the injury of 17 students and the arbitrary arrest and illegal detention of 20 students.
We demand that members of the PSG and the Manila Police District involved in the violent dispersal and arbitrary arrests be subjected to penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions provided by law.
We would also like to remind the Philippine Government that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.
We expect the Philippine Government to take immediate measures to ensure that the rights of the Filipino citizens are, at all times, upheld and protected.
We will continue to monitor your administration’s actions on this matter.